24 September 2008

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York





Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks at a joint press conference on the United Nations-REDD Programme, with the Prime Minister of Norway, Jens Stoltenberg; the Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Achim Steiner; the Assistant Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Olav Kjorven; the Assistant Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Annika Söder; and the Minister for the Environment of Norway, Eric Solheim, at Headquarters, 24 September:

Prime Minister Stoltenberg, Minister Solheim, Mr. Steiner, Ladies and Gentlemen.

It is with great pleasure that I join you here today to launch the United Nations collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries -- the UN REDD Programme -- a partnership of FAO, UNDP and UNEP.

Reducing deforestation in developing countries is a key element of addressing the global climate change challenge.  According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, tropical deforestation produces nearly 20 per cent of all carbon emissions caused by humans.  Climate change cannot be won without the world’s forests.

This, however, will be a complex and challenging feat in terms of setting up incentive structures and implementation mechanisms, and will require a long-term commitment.  But nonetheless, it is one of the best large-scale investments we can make against climate change that could result in an equally large scale dividend.

It has the potential to make substantial and immediate contribution to a low-cost global emission reduction portfolio.  Not to mention the multitude of co-benefits associated with reducing deforestation.  Sustainable forest and land-use management are efficient adaptation, poverty reduction and biodiversity conservation strategies.

Ensuring that the ongoing climate change negotiations result in an ambitious, inclusive, comprehensive and ratifiable post-2012 deal by December 2009 in Copenhagen -- must be our common priority.

And the deal will need to integrate the contribution of forests, if we are to meet our stabilization goals and avoid dangerous climate change.

Bali gave us a good start, to consider possible financial incentives for forest-based climate change mitigation in a post-2012 framework.  It also called on the international community to provide the institutional, capacity-building and technical support needed by developing countries to make progress on deforestation.  Through the UN-REDD Programme, Norway and the United Nations are coming together to meet this crucial responsibility.

The effort will start with support to nine countries: Bolivia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Indonesia, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Tanzania, Viet Nam and Zambia, and will be carried out in stages.  Support will range from capacity-building to designing national strategies and to testing financing approaches and institutional arrangements needed to monitor and verify reductions in deforestation and degradation more effectively.

By providing this support through collaboration among donors, multilateral institutions and developing countries, the UN-REDD Programme aims to ensure international coherence on key technical and operational issues.

We are certain that this collaborative effort will yield valuable inputs to the ongoing climate change negotiations.

This initiative is also a concrete illustration of the United Nations system’s commitment to provide a coherent support to Member States in responding to their climate change challenges.  It is a part of a larger effort by the United Nations system to organize their support to Member States on climate change.

In Bali, the world community was heartened by the Norwegian Government’s announcement of its willingness to provide significant financial support towards efforts to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradations in developing countries.  I congratulate Norway on keeping its Bali promise.  I want to acknowledge the Government of Norway, not only for its contributions to the global fight against climate change, but also its unwavering support to the United Nations system’s efforts to “deliver as one”.

As we celebrate this great start, I want to remind us all that tackling deforestation seriously will require a commitment at a much larger and longer scale.  So I invite other donors to join us in this effort.  Larger scale support will be crucial, particularly as countries move beyond this initial phase of designing national REDD strategies to the next more demanding and longer-term phase of managing existing forests in a way that sustains their ecosystem services, maximizes their carbon sink, while delivering community and livelihood benefits.

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